“Leaving on a Bad Note"
“A guy walks into a bar”…..the opening line of a
thousand jokes. But for the thousands who walk in,
there’s never a mention of those who eventually must
walk (or crawl) back out, so I’d like to devote a little
space to leaving a bar.
Most responsible beer folk and drinkers of other adult
beverages usually just pay their tabs, make their
goodbyes and leave the premises as if they were exiting
a bakery, drugstore or any other business enterprise.
But leaving a tavern is not always done in such a routine
manner. Indeed, over indulgence in the products offered
sometimes make for far more dramatic exits.
Every old western always showed someone leaving a
saloon by being punched through the swinging doors or
front window, but one need not return to the glory days
of the Old West to observe such athletic departures. On
my first return to Buffalo, NY after my marriage to
celebrate Thanksgiving with her family, my new wife and
I decided to take an early morning walk around her old
neighborhood, heavily blue-collar working class and
Polish, with one or two tap rooms on every corner.
As we were passing by the appropriately named Stash’s
Bar & Grill we were almost hit by the flying body of a
third shift foundry worker who had stopped for a few
boilermakers after work on the beautiful holiday morn.
He was propelled by a large man wearing an apron who
could only be Stash, himself, and who was issuing the
command “Ged the @#%$!%$ oud an dunt gom beck
An even better example of the bum’s rush occurred at
my 1980’s local, The Swiss Chalet. When an arrogant
patron decided to vent his displeasure at being “cut off”
by throwing his change at gentlemanly bartender
Charley Cybulski. Sixty year old Charley vaulted over
the bar, grabbed the coin tosser by the scruff of the
neck and the seat of his pants and forcibly ushered him
out the door to the sidewalk where the tipsy fool
unwisely decided to fight back, forcing Charley to kick
him to the ground. As I was attempting to pull Charley
off the unhappy evictee, two other regulars pulled up
directly in front of the action on the sidewalk and seeing
Charley engaged in fisticuffs rather than tending bar,
without so much as batting an eyelash, said “Looks like
we’ll have to wait a while for our first beer”.
One leaving a bar doesn’t always have to be propelled
by the innkeeper in order to land on the sidewalk. A
former Gaslight (my local in South Orange, NJ) regular
used the sidewalk as a landing strip after too many
“Tom Specials” and after missing the three front steps
upon leaving the vestibule. He didn’t lose an inordinate
amount of blood, but what he did lose was about 80
A bit more speed and sobriety are required for another
way of “leaving on a bad note”: running out on one’s
tab, or even worse, running out on one’s tab with your
neighbor’s change. Innkeepers have superior memories
so this particular exit can never be used more than once
in any one tavern.
Occasionally, due to over indulgence or a more serious
medical problem a patron may leave the bar on a
stretcher, surrounded by EMTs and tubes. Not a good
way to leave , but certainly better than leaving in a body
bag as has been happening lately in a nearby city. A bad
way for ambulatory drinkers to leave is in handcuffs.
Again in Buffalo, after my wife’s school reunion at a
posh country club some of her old classmates
suggested traveling back to their old neighborhood and
stopping at Casey’s Bar & Grill. It was a sultry summer
night and evidently this caused some tempers to flare.
While we enjoying pitchers of Old Vienna in the back
room, several of the locals in the front open bar area
began to argue and fight. I was fascinated that in the
two hours we were there the police were summoned no
less than three times and at least four debaters were
escorted to the station house in handcuffs via a paddy
Way back in the 1970’s I was having a beer in a pub
that had a back entrance and front door, similar to the
Gaslight. The most interesting bar exit I ever saw
happened there. A popular craze in the early seventies
was “streaking”, or removing every last stitch of clothing
and running through crowds. This sport was very
popular with the college crowd. No one saw them enter
from the rear, but everybody seated at the bar couldn’t
help but notice the stark naked couple as they made
their au naturel exit through the front door. They didn’t
even stop for a quick brew and that was most likely a
good thing. They didn’t appear to have their wallets on
Enough about leaving a bar. I much prefer to enter one.
So I think I’ll pop over to the Gaslight for a pint of the
excellent, not to be missed HJS cask conditioned IPA.
has to say
and it could
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Beer My Way.........
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by Dan Hodge